An Attractive Rehire


richard4_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Also Featuring:


Scene Title An Attractive Rehire
Synopsis Unable to coast by forever, Dr. Miller looks to take up his former position.
Date February 17, 2020

Bay Ridge

Zachery holds his phone without looking at it, a number already on the screen ready to go. Last time he called it, he was sitting in a car he no longer has. This time, he's opted for more of an open air approach.

Because he crashed that fucking car. On purpose.

So, now, he finds himself standing in a particularly dreary part of Bay Ridge, staring into the guts of an old building that collapsed in on itself years ago and was never deemed whole enough to be reclaimed or repurposed. A bag of recently bought book swings at his side, held tightly in the chill of the early morning.

He's put this off long enough.

After half a glance downward, he taps the screen with his thumb, and puts the phone up to his ear. At the slightest click of a connection, he says immediately, "Sera, Sera, Sera," her name leaves him as if in idle amusement, an uneven grin surfacing. "This is Dr. Handsome speaking."

Nothing that is language comes over the other end of the line. It’s a muffled, wet, sloppy sound with what might be grunts behind it. It is followed a moment later by a lip-smacking sound, a very audible swallow, followed by a reiteration of an intelligible, «Welcome to RayTech Industries NYC Branch Office, how many I direct your— »

It’s only then that Sera realizes the man on the other end is Zachery Miller and that he’s already been talking while she was chewing. «Doctor Miller! I have a memo here for you from Mr. Ray,» she says with a click of her tongue and a clattering of what sounds like a cup of pens, «It reads,» she clears her throat, «If that asshole Doctor Miller calls, tell him I hope he’s d— oh this is from August you probably already have it!»

There’s a distant bell jingle and the meow of a cat on the other end of the phone. «How can I direct your call Doctor Miller?»

Zachery's face lifts to the sky, eye rolling up to a cloud overhead. Could've sworn he'd find a raincloud. The bagged books slip slowly from his grasp, until they're an unceremonious pile on the sidewalk next to him.

The disappointment in his voice is palpable. "Sera. Come on." His grin has gone. "Has it been so long you've forgotten my face? Have my collective hours standing next to you and listening to your ramblings on my way in and out of the building been a waste? Can I not simply be calling to hear your voice and also to make an appointment with the boss without you telling him it's coming from me?"

Sera makes a noise in the back of her throat, though Zachery can’t be sure if it’s directed at him or the cat. «Sorry you— there were a lot of can’ts and don’t in there. So you…» she sounds distracted, and is also eating something. There’s an abundance of mouth noise. «Did you want me to not schedule you an appointment, but tell Richard that you were going to, but that you decided not to?»

"You know what," Zachery replies, lifting a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Just schedule an appointment. It's fine. Schedule an appointment for a short chat at the earliest convenience, tell him it's me, or not, whatever sounds best to you."

'I don't care anymore' is heavily implied in the way his tone of voice dips down and out of Friendly Chat territory. He still can't help, though, to add halfheartedly, "Sera, darling Sera, where did we go wrong. When did you stop adoring me. Is this what happens when you inch your way toward, somehow, parenthood. Did it start already."

There was typing on the other end of the line, noisy mechanical keyboard click-clacks. Then breathless silence. «P— parenthood?» Sera splutters in exasperation. «Are— are you?» She struggles to find her words. «Am I…»

Oh no. Wait, no.

«Doctor Miller, am I pregnant?» Sera squeals into the receiver. He can already hear the tone in her voice, that she somehow thinks he can sense that through the phone. «Oh my gosh!»

There's only a beat of a pause from Zachery before he rasps an answer back, "Yes, Sera, and I'm the father, awfully sorry about that."

Then, holding the phone slightly away, he asks of the sky and with the face of a man who realises he's just accidentally stabbed himself rather than call Richard directly, "Why must she be so endearing to me still. It's exhausting."

The other end of the line is quiet for a moment. There’s a huff of breath. Then, «Oh! Oh! That was a joke!» What follows next is a solid fifty-six seconds of uninterrupted, hysterical wheezing laughter from Sera.

Zachery hears approximately twelve seconds of it before the line quietly disconnects.

He picks up his bag, and starts walking. Scrolling down on a list of contacts, he jabs a finger at a name and number obtained through Nicole, instead. Again, once that phone is up against his ear again, he doesn't leave much room for the person on the other end to get a word in.

"Hi, Richard? Zachery Miller here. Let's meet."

Raytech Branch Office
The Office of Richard Ray

“Doctor Miller.”

Richard looks - outwardly - much the same as he was when last seen by the other man, aside from the addition of black gloves to his outfit. The cat is not in residence, and the cat’s bed has been removed as well.

Eyebrows lift over the edges of his shades as he leans back in his chair, “How can I help you?”

The first time Zachery sat in the chair across from Richard's desk, last year, he was on his best behaviour — back straight, clothes as crisp as his words, and discomfort thick in his every anxious movement to present himself in some shade of possibly respectable.

Today, there is none of that. He sits on the edge of his seat, elbows on his knees and head tipped upward as he peers at the man in front of him. The man who, presumably, he needs a favour from.

Which is why it's somewhat strange that - after a wrinkling of his nose and a twinge of a grin in fascination - he does not answer the question posed but asks instead, "What is wrong with you?" There is no anger in his voice.

Richard starts to answer that question with his usual dry sarcasm, but then pauses as he realizes what the man is probably actually asking. He regards the doctor for a long moment, the fingers of one hand tapping lightly against the arm of his expensive chair a few times.

Shedda Dinu and Mazdak decided to kidnap and murder me last month,” he replies flatly, “My cousin gave her life to resurrect me from the dead, and now I’m full of ghosts. I’m sorry that your organization didn’t put it in their newsletter.”

There’s a pause, and he asks, “I’m actually rather curious— what do you see?”

There is a flicker of something dampening Zachery's spirits at the open discussing of Shedda Dinu, his shoulders sagging. But. Just for a moment. Then there is relief, the glint in his eye returning as a chuckle leaves him on his next exhale, amusement only flaring up brighter than before.

Sure. Let's be transparent. Suits him just fine.

"It's not seeing, not precisely. I can just…" Zachery's eye still locked onto Richard's face, he lifts a hand in a vague gesture, as if semantics require being physically waved away. "You're very still," he amends, finally. "Even though your nervous system doesn't quite seem to be aware of it. Like a lake gone stagnant with an active waterfall right at its edge."

“Heh.” Richard brings one hand up to rub against the side of his neck, “I suppose that makes… a lot of sense, given everything. A poetic way of putting it. I recommend not touching me, by the way, there’s a high chance of it being lethal.”

“Regardless. What can I do for you, Doctor Miller?”

A brow lifts, up above the edge of his shades.

Zachery straightens out of his hunch forward at least a little, eyebrows ticking up at the mention of touch. Noted.

Some of the fascination sticks in how keenly attentive he remains, but an answer does come eventually, after a clearing of his throat. "I was never called to come back into work after the hospital. Now, clearly you're aware of some…" His head angles sideways as he considers his words, something sharply pained creeping into his words despite his grin remaining, "Of some transgressions of the past few months, but you let me saunter in here all casual-like, so I feel like there are two options here — either I've walked willingly into a trap, or you're going to just let me get my job back because of… honestly I don't really know how insane your world has to be for that to happen, but let's say for the sake of argument that it's a possibility."

He pauses, but only for a heartbeat, then puts his hands up, wrists bonked lightly together facetiously. "Should I go ahead and prepare for the cuffs, then, or what?"

“I try to keep informed,” Richard observes simply at the mention of his awareness of transgressions, “So, clearly, yes.”

He pushes himself up from his chair, then, walking not around the desk but over towards the window - hands clasping behind his back as he looks across the city.

“I’ve given you every chance, Miller. Even after you stole Devon’s genetic material, even after all the bullshit you’ve given me despite me giving you every chance. You’re like a man used to an abusive relationship who acts out when you aren’t in one, in the hopes of being abused.”

“Why should I give you yet another chance?”

Be it for the distance created or the words spoken, some of what fuels Zachery's stare diminishes a little. Only once Richard's back is turned does his gaze drift absently off to the side in thought, hands dropping back into his lap.

He prepares to answer, to argue, but an inhale finds no immediate words to be used on. Maybe now is not the time for arguing.

His grin recedes, some of the smugness ebbing out of his voice when he tries again and manages a response - even if it's a little more slowly than before, a little more sober. "Because I did walk in here willingly. If this meeting does result in me getting arrested again, you and I both know my life is over. Which, a few months ago, I may not have cared about." His attention returns to Richard fully. "Now, I have something to lose. So I suppose it's a matter of trust."

“You’ve twice walked out on this job, Doctor Miller,” Richard notes, turning his head to look back over his shoulder, “The fact that you’re now saying that I should be able to trust you because you have something to lose. Are you really so desperate to be blackmailed that you’re offering it now?”

An eyebrow goes up.

“Have you ever considered therapy?”

"Funny story, that," Zachery finds his words immediately this time, even if he has to pause for the bitter laugh that escapes him, "the last therapist I saw caught fire and burned to death."

As far as he knows, anyway.

It's his turn to stand, now, and even though his brow knits with discomfort, persistence helps him keep his head up high and his voice steady. Less steady is the one step he takes forward, forgetting and then ignoring the fact that he can't quite put his full weight on his left leg. "But that just proves my point, though — nothing is certain. Nothing can be relied upon for stability. But that's not going to keep me from bargaining for the chance. You call it blackmailing, I call it a…" One of his shoulders pops up in a halfhearted shrug. "A deposit. If I fuck up now, I truly, honestly do deserve to lose everything."

“You think that there’s nothing that’s certain, nothing that’s relied on…”

Richard gives his head a slight shake, reaching down into a pocket to draw something out and regard it where the other man can’t see it yet.

“That’s not true.”

Turning, he gives the object a casual toss over to the other man. Easy to catch.

“You’ve never been outside of my reach, Doctor Miller. We’re doing some reorganization here at Raytech, but there’s still a place for you. Take a week off, get yourself cleaned up and your leg patched up, then get back here. Will you still be running your little business in Providence?”

A simple, small polyethylene case. The case that Gorgon came in.

It's not the cleanest catch that finds Zachery holding a new thing to stare at, what with his lack of depth perception, but he manages not to drop it, at least.

What levity was left in him is sapped as he slowly turns it over in his grasp.

"It was never meant to be a business," he answers, a little late, other thoughts still rolling around in his head as he continues to stare downward and adds a little distantly, "The move was as forced as my hand was. Unless I'm needed for an emergency, I'll be happy never to see that place again. My place is - elsewhere now."

“Probably for the best.”

Richard’s hands clasp back behind his back again as he looks back to the window.

“We’re doing some restructuring of the biologicals department soon, so you’ll probably have a new boss shortly, but for the time being we’ll leave you where you were. I’ll expect you to catch up with current projects and see where you can be of assistance once you’re back at work.”


For all the victory that this was supposed to be, Zachery doesn't sound particularly happy about it now. Still, at least he looks back up with some gladness still in the way he holds himself, a little more relaxed, a little less burdened by the facade Richard has seen him keep up around almost without fail, before.

He palms the case. "Thank you." With the pretence peeled away, this leaves him a little quieter than he might like. "Certainty or not, I hope neither of us come to regret this."

With that, he starts making his way out. Except apparently he can't help but mention just one more thing. "I should go. I have some reading to do. Nicole is pregnant. With twins."

Maybe two more things, technically.

There’s a long silence that answers that, and then a long, heavy sigh, one of Richard’s hands coming back around and lifting up to press against his face.

“…we offer paternity leave. Ask Sera for the details. If you hurt Nicole nobody will ever find the body, because you won’t leave one behind. Capisce?”

A beat passes.

“That said, for the love of God get out of here before I change my mind and take my sister’s advice on this matter.”

Zachery's lingered in the doorway during the silence, because — probably because it feels a bit rude just to go, all things considered.

And there's a lot of things to consider.

There's a twinge of something pleased that pulls at a corner of his mouth at the threat. Realising this is probably not the appropriate response to a thing like that, it straightens out again shortly afterward.

He should really go. And not say, "Is this the wrong time to bring up that I'd really, really love to study whatever's going on with your body, in a perfectly platonic sort of way? Because I have some concerns about who's really — in control in there." But he does say this. Adding, quickly, "It probably is the wrong time, isn't it. Listen, I worked on Warren, right, back in the day, and he's fffi—…"

He should go. Zachery forces himself to round the corner, disappearing out of sight. "SeeyouonMonday, good bye!"


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License